Poster for the Five Night at Freddy’s Movie.
Kerry Kadel | Arts and Entertainment Editor
WARNING: This article contains some slight spoilers for Five Nights at Freddy’s
The first ever game playthrough series I had watched on YouTube was Five Nights at Freddy’s and I watched no one other than Mark Fischbach, or Markiplier, as everyone else knows him as. It was also the first time I had watched a Markiplier video and watching his gameplay introduced me to Five Nights at Freddy’s. I had already been a lover of mystery, murder and the unexplainable (of course, being in middle school, the closest type of media I fixated on for a twelve-year-old was “Goosebumps”). This game began the horror category that is now referred to as “mascot horror,” as seen in recent popular games such as “Poppy’s Playtime”, “Baldi’s Basics” and “Bendy and the Ink Machine”.
I’ll be honest, I got back into the lore of “Five Nights at Freddy’s” when the first trailer dropped, but of course I recalled the basics, which are: a family-friendly restaurant franchise that needs a guard for the night shift, to which the security guard (you the player), are there to watch the mascot animatronics at night, only to realize that they move at night and have a tendency to want the guard dead. You, as the night guard, have to keep track of where each animatronic is over a set of cameras. Some cameras flicker and glitch, or don’t show at all to make sure that one doesn’t enter the office. The mascots that eerily make their way to the night guard’s office include Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chicken, Foxy the Pirate Fox and Freddy Fazbear. Freddy is the leader of the gang, up on a stage alongside Bonnie and Chica, while Foxy has his own stage called “Pirate’s Cove.”
In the game, Foxy is the only animatronic that doesn’t perform in the daytime due to him always needing maintenance. In the movie, however, the restaurant has been abandoned for years, hiring multiple security guards to take the night shifts only for them to end up…let’s just say quitting. Josh Hutcherson stars as Mike Schmidt, the title character in the first video game. Piper Rubio also stars as Abby, Mike’s younger sister. Mike doesn’t have a good reputation at keeping a job, so when he meets Steve Raglan a career counselor played by Matthew Lillard. Mike is presented with the opportunity to take a job as a night guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzaria. His job is to keep people out from ransacking the place.
This change from the video game leaves open room for the writing to take place and add in many scenes for the animatronics to shine. Longtime fans of the franchise will absolutely love and appreciate each personality of each animatronic, as they do have their own scenes of being truly loveable mascots towards Abby. Even though they are killer animatronics, there’s some type of thrill seeing them be the creepy, murderous machines that make up the video game, but if you know the lore, there’s also a reason as to why this makes viewers sad. I was happy to see both these aspects in the movie, as well as the jump-scares, per the iconic parts of the video game before the player dies by one of the animatronics.
There are many easter eggs that Five Nights at Freddy’s fans will love scattered throughout the film, but the one part I’d love to talk about is the climax of the movie, where the title villain of the franchise appears. A fight scene ensues, where a highly crucial part of the video games’ lore takes place, and as gruesome as it was, it was done wonderfully on screen for horror fans to enjoy as well. It’s a turning point for the movie, leaving room open for a possible sequel.
The movie was a bit slow at some points. As a fan, I appreciate the movie as a whole. This movie had been in the works for nearly eight years, constantly changing directors, and to now have it feels like a wonderful fever dream. As of writing this article, the movie scores 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, but has an 88% audience score. From what I’ve seen via social media, the movie gave everything the fans wanted. Many critics state that they were “outsiders” to the game, or that the movie would have been better to follow the game’s mechanics of losing power by the hour as you flip through the cameras and turn on and off lights. As stress-inducing as this may be playing, I think this would have gotten too repetitive for the movie, and I think what replaces this for Mike to return is the fact that the animatronics somehow give hints as to how Mike’s young brother went missing when he was a child.
You’ll be able to see just how loved this movie was, as the game’s creator, Scott Cawthon, was involved with director Emma Tammi. Both wanted to make this a movie for the loyal fans of the indie horror game, new and old. There’s many things I can talk more on, like how the main animatronics are not CGI, but actual puppets made by The Jim Henson Company that are worn as suits by puppeteers–and this makes the animatronics move and look more real to viewers rather than using computer-generated models.
It was truly an exciting experience for me, witnessing these characters and their story come to life and I sincerely hope that there is a sequel in the works.